Friday, September 30

something new

Being a new university student comes with new everything.

There are more obvious things, like new friends, new subjects to learn, new place to live in.
But there are also more subtle things,
and to me this is something to contemplate on.

Back in high school, or practically all the time before university life, my social circle has been quite...predictable. Growing up in a common neighborhood where everyone is the subject of the same norm, things don't really get too diverse, if you know what I mean. We've always agreed on a set of values that we consider as "good," and we justify judging other people with what we see as "right." We tended to marginalize those who are different than us. The same thing happens in my school social circle. I went to a ~favorite~ middle school and high school, where most of the students come from a "nice" upbringing and having a decent economic background. There aren't really kids with stereotypical "bad behavior." Even smoking is already very frowned upon. Those who smoke were perceived as "bad boy." And also, norm and religious values were placed very highly in our student life. Like, if you are not diligent in your prayers then somehow you are a lesser being. And even in the choosing of student council members, capabilities are tied up with that candidate's religiousness, to the point that the candidates were publicly asked about the quality of their praying habits and. (saying this here is probably pretty controversial, so i'd like to apologize if some of you are offended by that notion.)

The only times I ever get exposed to the other side of social diversity was when I meet my elementary school friends. I'm pretty much the only student from my elementary school who made it to be a student in my high school and middle school--which is considered as one of the most favorite. So, when I meet them, I began to see that many teenagers don't live the way I do. For example, one of them has been known to bring their girlfriends home to their room. This was pretty scandalous. Quoting a sentence from a speech from I-forgot-who, "Mainmu kurang jauh, pulangmu kurang malam," which means, I only knew limited kinds of people because my association has always been with those who are similar to me.

Not only about social associations, but also about how we think. Back there, the way we think or our principle ideologies have been quite similar. Those who think too-differently can be viewed as 'radical,' Not to mention that with our view, we tend to justify our actions solely because that action has been a tradition in the system. (cough, masa orientasi siswa, cough). When I experienced orientation processes in university, I began to realize that what I had in my high school is a form of oppressive orientation, no matter how we justified that because we were sure that our method was the best in producing quality new students. 

But being here, in Fisipol, I experience so much diversities. I meet female smokers (which is ultra rare or even inexistent in my social circle back home), people who actually go to clubs and get drunk (which is also ultra rare), LGBT community people, people who don't associate themselves with a certain religious affiliations, and so on and so forth. The good thing is that I apparently don't really care with all those differences. I don't really care with what are their personal preferences:  If they are nice, then well, let's be friends. As simple as that. And thankfully also, the community here is pretty open-minded and accepting. Things that were previously considered taboo can be discussed. Those people who are different or a part of the minority are not discriminated. People don't do a double-take and then frown when they see smokers. I know that not everyone here are that openminded, but anyways I'm 100% sure that people here are way more open minded than what I had back home. 

And that is the point of tolerance. We, as a human being and as a society, tend to fear the things that we don't understand. If we really want to live in harmony with people from diverse background, we have to actually build an understanding about them. So that we don't judge and label people by our own boxes of 'good's and 'bad's. By this we can also see the reality of life around us, that there are people who live under very different circumstances from what we're used to. We have to knock that little bubble separating us from the rest of the world (?), and begin to actually respect people regardless of what race they are, what sexual preference they have, or how they decide to practice their religion (or lack of). 

So yeah, being a university student, especially in my campus, pretty much provides mindblowing findings of new things. Thus, I'm content to say that I'm comfortable being here in Fisipol. 

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